Today I’m considering my own decisions regarding what I draw. This is more of a curiosity than a categorisation. And hopefully an ongoing curiosity. But let’s have a look at my work and figure out what I like.
First, what I yesterday referred to as the ‘micro elements’ I’m now thinking are perhaps better thought of as the ‘subjective what’ of a scene. Because it’s not the scene or setting itself, but what you choose to notice within that.
What do I include? What do I leave out?
I love light and shadow. It’s one of the joys of making art for me. I don’t care for a style in which light becomes neutral. I like cast shadows and occlusion shadows and figuring out how to make something look translucent, or like a neon light. I’m not aiming for realistic lighting in every picture, but I am probably aiming for defined lighting in every picture (even if that’s overcast).
I’m also fascinated by patterns. My European sketchbook has little close-ups of patterns to accompany the larger scenes. Using repeated patterns and textures in my work makes me happy. (Although sometimes I get bored of drawing it all in. I often like to use digitally repeated patterns, rather than patterns that render realistically around corners etc.)
Related to that, I like texture. It’s one reason I like working with a black pencil. Dry media in general, really. I like to change the mark-making in order to give an object some texture, rather than rendering it as a single block colour or shade. It’s why I used to spend ages scanning pencil textures into Inkscape and eventually stopped using vectors altogether.
I enjoy drawing people, their faces in particular, and I find them interesting. I feel like drawing people probably needs a whole blog post of its own… But for the time being I can note that I don’t care for caricature but I do want my characters to look different to one another. Of the illustrators I’ve so far discussed I really like Phoebe Wahl’s people, and they come closest to how I like to draw people. But, with lighting.
But what of the big picture?
I like research, and I think big picture variety is fairly important. So at this stage I’m willing to leave this fairly blank. But I do think it’s worth considering why certain objects appeal to me. I like ruins because of their sense of history, and often tradition/religion. Perhaps I would also like to spend some time drawing cathedrals. I like doorways and arches and roads disappearing off into the picture because they hint at a sense of journey. Perhaps I would also like to spend some time drawing trains, cars, horses, wagons and other things that give a sense of movement.
It’s also worth knowing that if I need to create illustrations within a particular setting, and it’s not a setting I’m immediately interested in, I can use my favoured subjective elements and themes to get myself interested. I can (assuming a historical setting) research the people of that time and place and their fashions in hair, make-up, clothing and get interested in that. I can research (or imagine) the kinds of patterns that might exist in that society, and where those patterns are used. I can imagine a certain type of weather and how that might influence day-to-day life. I can consider the types of journeys a person might take in that world, and how they would prepare.
It’s worth staying curious about my interests even if just to use that to trick myself into being interested in other things. Beyond that though, I already mentioned some of the interactions between these subjective elements and my preferred materials/techniques, so maybe I’ll write some more about that tomorrow!